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Edmonton’s Italian Presence Now on Website
Edmonton Journal, February 21st, 2003
By Bob Gilmour
(Copyright Edmonton Journal 2003)
EDMONTON - Adriana Davies is thrilled that the rich heritage of Edmonton's Italian community is now featured on the World Wide Web.
People around the globe can take a virtual tour of Little Italy on 95th Street and see buildings and streetscapes, at www.albertasource.ca/abitalian/.
They can view Edmonton Italian family photo albums, listen to about 40 oral histories of community pioneers, read 60 or 70
biographies and more than 40 profiles of city Italian social organizations.
"It's just enormously exciting and moving," said Davies, who moved here from Italy as a child and has been Alberta's Italian community historian for 20 years.
Davies, 59, is executive director of the Heritage Community Foundation, an Alberta charitable educational trust developing ethnocultural heritage Web sites. Its first is Celebrating Alberta's Italian Community.
She was project manager, senior historian and wrote most of the articles herself. She says it's the first Alberta Italian history and is "a new way of doing community history" with stories of ordinary people and families.
"It gives those largely faceless and nameless immigrants a presence and ensures that their stories are told and that they become a part of the official history of the West."
The Web site tells stories of Edmonton's century-old Italian community. In 1901, Tony Biamonte was the city's lone Italian. By 1926, there was an Italian grocery, a confectioner, watchmaker and Italian consul. An Italian community was forming along 95th, 96th and 97th streets. In the early 1930s, the first Italian social organizations were formed.
Thousands of Italians immigrated here in the mid-1950s from the poorer, rural regions of southern Italy.
Today, Edmonton's Italian community is Canada's fourth largest after Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, said Davies. With 25,000 to 30,000 residents, it's twice the size and more diverse than its counterpart in Calgary and has better preserved its ethnicity, history and culture.
Edmonton also has a Little Italy area, which Calgary doesn't. It's the home of Il Congresso, an Italian-language newspaper read across Western Canada. It has 40 Italian societies and three Italian centres, compared to one for Calgary.
The Italian Web site is a joint project of the foundation, city Italians and the community lottery board. It's part of the proposed Alberta Online Encyclopedia, the foundation's project for Alberta's 100th birthday in 2005.
It's the first Web site of more than 60 ethnocultural communities in Alberta planned by the foundation, with the southeast Asian and Chinese communities possibly next.